Under Ordinance PRE/1283/2007, foreigners wishing to visit Spain for private travel purposes must obtain a letter of invitation as part of their visa application. The letter is an invitation to visit from a relative or close friend who is a citizen or legal resident of Spain. The person issuing the invitation must provide housing for the foreigner for the duration of his or her visit.

As a member of the European Union and a signatory to the 1985 Schengen Agreement, Spain upholds the Schengen border code by monitoring foreigners who wish to enter other countries which are also party to the agreement.

In accordance with the Schengen Agreement, Spain implements the rules governing invitations affecting both Spanish nationals and legal foreign Spanish residents.

The following people can submit a letter to sponsor a foreign visitor, provided that he or she has agreed to provide for his or her accommodation:

  • a Spanish citizen;
  • a citizen of a country which is an EU member state or beneficiary of the EU regime; or
  • a Spanish legal foreign resident.

A visa applicant may have to produce such a letter at:

  • a Spanish embassy or consulate which administers a visa service; and
  • the point of entry on the Spanish border.

The letter of invitation under no circumstances exempts the foreigner from any of the other requirements for entry into Spain.

A sponsor can issue a letter of invitation through his or her local Spanish police station.

The following information must be included in the letter:

  • the sponsor's personal details - first name, surname, place of birth, date of birth, nationality, identity document or passport number and address (permanent residence or second home);
  • the visitor's personal details - first name, surname, place of birth, date of birth, nationality, passport number and permanent address;
  • an official declaration by the sponsor expressing willingness to invite the foreigner by verifying that living arrangements have been made (eg, property title, lease or rent contract in accordance with the civil law);
  • the sponsor's relationship to the foreigner; and
  • the duration of stay.

Where an application includes several people, this information must be listed for each applicant individually, along with housing provisions.

Before signing, the sponsor must declare that the information provided in the letter is accurate.

The sponsor must affirm his or her understanding:

  • of Article 318 of the Penal Code, which makes the illegal trafficking of people a crime punishable by imprisonment;
  • that infractions of Articles 54.1(b), 55.2(c) and 57.1 of Law 4/2000 are punishable by a fine of between €6,001 and €60,000 or banishment from Spanish territory for a period of three to 10 years; and
  • that all personal information provided will be scrutinised by both the police and civil guard.

Access to information submitted to the General Commissary of Foreign Travellers and Documentation is protected under Law 15/1999.

Once the invitation letter has been received, an interview may be conducted by a police officer. The applicant will be notified once a decision has been reached.

If the request is approved, fees will be determined. If the request is denied, the reasons will be explained, as will the recourse options.

The official letter of invitation form incorporates security measures to ensure that the information given has not been manipulated or falsified for fraudulent use.

A letter of invitation is valid for nine months and must be written in Spanish.

For further information on this topic please contact Marla Bojorge at Bojorge & Associates by telephone (+34 96 045 1676), fax (+34 96 112 5927) or email ([email protected]).